When Can a Pregnant Dog Get an X-ray to See How Many Pups She's Carrying?

by Betty Lewis
A pregnant dog shouldn't have X-rays before the 45th day of pregnancy.

A pregnant dog shouldn't have X-rays before the 45th day of pregnancy.

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You've been anxiously awaiting Josie's delivery date, wondering how many bundles of joy to expect. Though you've been keeping a close eye on her, it's hard to guess how many puppies she's carrying. The vet has a few ways to get a puppy head count to help you get ready.

Counting Puppies

X-rays can distinguish between pregnancy, false pregnancy and thickening of the uterus in dogs, and are the most accurate estimate of litter size. Josie shouldn't have X-rays before her 45th day of pregnancy, as the radiation could harm her pups. The vet can give you an estimate of her litter size earlier, around the 28th day of pregnancy, by palpating her abdomen. At that point her pups are small, vulnerable embryos, so palpation should only be done by the vet, who will know where and how to feel for puppies without damaging their fetal-placental units. If you really can't wait, at 21 days an abdominal ultrasound can estimate litter size. Ultrasonography is safe and doesn't use radiation, however, it's not as accurate as X-rays for counting pups.

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About the Author

Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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